This timely book debates the economic and political logic of the austerity policies that have been implemented in the UK and in the Eurozone since 2010 and asks whether there is any alternative for these countries in the years ahead. The work reconsiders the austerity versus stimulus debate through the voices of those who proposed the successful idea of expansionary austerity and those who opposed it. The editors have brought together a collection of articles written by some of the most notable figures in the discipline, including the likes of Alberto Alesina, Ken Rogoff, Tim Besley, David Graeber, Vince Cable, and Paul Krugman. The book also features the debate between Niall Ferguson and Robert Skidelsky. These leading thinkers unveil a world where economists are far from agreeing on economic policy, and where politics often dominates the discussion. The question of whether the British government should have opted for austerity runs through the book, as well as how sustained economic recovery should be encouraged in the future. Scholars, students and members of the general public with an interest in the financial crisis and its lingering aftermath will find this work invaluable.
The 2012 presidential campaign will, above all else, be a referendum on the Obama administration's handling of the financial crisis, recalling the period when Obama's “audacity of hope” met the austerity of reality. Central to this is the ''American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009''—the largest economic recovery plan in American history. Senator Mitch McConnell gave a taste of the enormity of the money committed: if you had spent 1 million a day since Jesus was born, it still would not add up to the price tag of the stimulus package. A nearly entirely partisan piece of legislation— Democrats voted for it, Republicans against— the story of how the bill was passed and, more importantly, how the money was spent and to what effect, is known barely at all. Stepping outside the political fray, ProPublica's Michael Grabell offers a perceptive, balanced, and dramatic story of what happened to the tax payers' money, pursuing the big question through behind-the-scenes interviews and on-the-ground reporting in more than a dozen states across the country.
One of our foremost economic thinkers challenges a cherished tenet of today's financial orthodoxy: that spending less, refusing to forgive debt, and shrinking government—“austerity”—is the solution to a persisting economic crisis like ours or Europe's, now in its fifth year. Since the collapse of September 2008, the conversation about economic recovery has centered on the question of debt: whether we have too much of it, whose debt to forgive, and how to cut the deficit. These questions dominated the sound bites of the 2012 U.S. presidential election, the fiscal-cliff debates, and the perverse policies of the European Union. Robert Kuttner makes the most powerful argument to date that these are the wrong questions and that austerity is the wrong answer. Blending economics with historical contrasts of effective debt relief and punitive debt enforcement, he makes clear that universal belt-tightening, as a prescription for recession, defies economic logic. And while the public debt gets most of the attention, it is private debts that crashed the economy and are sandbagging the recovery—mortgages, student loans, consumer borrowing to make up for lagging wages, speculative shortfalls incurred by banks. As Kuttner observes, corporations get to use bankruptcy to walk away from debts. Homeowners and small nations don't. Thus, we need more public borrowing and investment to revive a depressed economy, and more forgiveness and reform of the overhang of past debts. In making his case, Kuttner uncovers the double standards in the politics of debt, fromRobinson Crusoe author Daniel Defoe's campaign for debt forgiveness in the seventeenth century to the two world wars and Bretton Woods. Just as debtors' prisons once prevented individuals from surmounting their debts and resuming productive life, austerity measures shackle, rather than restore, economic growth—as the weight of past debt crushes the economy's future potential. Above all, Kuttner shows how austerity serves only the interest of creditors—the very bankers and financial elites whose actions precipitated the collapse. Lucid, authoritative, provocative—a book that will shape the economic conversation and the search for new solutions.
Politicians have talked endlessly about the seismic economic and social impacts of the recent financial crisis, but many continue to ignore its disastrous effects on human health—and have even exacerbated them, by adopting harsh austerity measures and cutting key social programs at a time when constituents need them most. The result, as pioneering public health experts David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu reveal in this provocative book, is that many countries have turned their recessions into veritable epidemics, ruining or extinguishing thousands of lives in a misguided attempt to balance budgets and shore up financial markets. Yet sound alternative policies could instead help improve economies and protect public health at the same time. In The Body Economic, Stuckler and Basu mine data from around the globe and throughout history to show how government policy becomes a matter of life and death during financial crises. In a series of historical case studies stretching from 1930s America, to Russia and Indonesia in the 1990s, to present-day Greece, Britain, Spain, and the U.S., Stuckler and Basu reveal that governmental mismanagement of financial strife has resulted in a grim array of human tragedies, from suicides to HIV infections. Yet people can and do stay healthy, and even get healthier, during downturns. During the Great Depression, U.S. deaths actually plummeted, and today Iceland, Norway, and Japan are happier and healthier than ever, proof that public wellbeing need not be sacrificed for fiscal health. Full of shocking and counterintuitive revelations and bold policy recommendations, The Body Economic offers an alternative to austerity—one that will prevent widespread suffering, both now and in the future.
"The years since the Great Crisis of 2008 have seen slow growth, high unemployment, falling home values, chronic deficits, a deepening disaster in Europe--and a stale argument between two false solutions, "austerity" on one side and "stimulus" on the other. Both sides and practically all analyses of the crisis so far take for granted that the economic growth from the early 1950s until 2000--interrupted only by the troubled 1970s--represented a normal performance. From this perspective the crisis was an interruption, caused by bad policy or bad people, and full recovery is to be expected if the cause is corrected. The End of Normal challenges this view. Placing the crisis in perspective, Galbraith argues that the 1970s already ended the age of easy growth. The 1980s and 1990s saw only uneven growth, with rising inequality within and between countries. And the 2000s saw the end even of that--despite frantic efforts to keep growth going with tax cuts, war spending, and financial deregulation. When the crisis finally came, stimulus and automatic stabilization were able to place a floor under economic collapse. But they are not able to bring about a return to high growth and full employment. Today, four factors impede a return to normal. They are the rising costs of real resources, the now-evident futility of military power, the labor-saving consequences of the digital revolution, and the breakdown of law and ethics in the financial sector. The Great Crisis should be seen as a turning point, a barometer of the rise of unstable economic conditions, which should be regarded as the new normal. Policies and institutions going forward should be designed, above all, modestly, to cope with this fact, maintaining conditions for a good life in difficult times"--
In the debris of the financial crash of 2008, the principles of John Maynard Keynes—that economic storms are a normal part of the market system, that governments need to step in and use fiscal ammunition to prevent these storms from becoming depressions, and that societies that value the pursuit of money should reprioritize—are more pertinent and applicable than ever. In Keynes: The Return of the Master, Robert Skidelsky brilliantly synthesizes Keynes career and life, and offers nervous capitalists a positive answer to the question we now face: When unbridled capitalism falters, is there an alternative?
Since the financial crisis of 2008 and the following Great Recession, there has been surprisingly little change in the systems of ideas, institutions and policies which preceded the crash and helped bring it about. 'Mainstream' economics carries on much as it did before. Despite much discussion of what went wrong, very little has substantially changed. Perhaps the answer has something to do with power; a subject on which economics is unusually quiet. Whilst economics may be able to discuss bargaining power and market power, it fails to explore the reciprocal connections between economic ideas and politics: the political power of economic ideas on the one side, and the influence of power structures on economic thought on the other. This book explores how the supposedly neutral discipline of economics does not simply describe human behaviour, but in fact shapes it.
One of our most prescient political observers provides a sobering account of how pitched battles over scarce resources will increasingly define American politics in the coming years—and how we might avoid, or at least mitigate, the damage from these ideological and economic battles. In a matter of just three years, a bitter struggle over limited resources has enveloped political discourse at every level in the United States. Fights between haves and have-nots over health care, unemployment benefits, funding for mortgage write-downs, economic stimulus legislation—and, at the local level, over cuts in police protection, garbage collection, and in the number of teachers—have dominated the debate. Elected officials are being forced to make zero-sum choices—or worse, choices with no winners. Resource competition between Democrats and Republicans has left each side determined to protect what it has at the expense of the other. The major issues of the next few years—long-term deficit reduction; entitlement reform, notably of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid; major cuts in defense spending; and difficulty in financing a continuation of American international involvement—suggest that your-gain-is-my-loss politics will inevitably intensify.
In the press, at the Capitol, on Wall Street and around the world, people are waking up to the dangers of inequality as never before. Mainstream journalists now note that income inequality in America today is greater than at any time since 1929 - just before the Great Depression. Perhaps thisis not accidental. Where does inequality come from? And how does it lead to economic instability? In Inequality and Instability, leading economist James K. Galbraith demonstrates that finance is the driver converting inequality into instability. Those without money - made more numerous by inequality - find little recourse but to the ancient remedy of the loan. Their urges and needs, for bad andfor good, are abetted by the aggressive desire of those with money to lend. But if the balloon of debt explodes, as it did in 2008, it disrupts an entire economy built upon a financial house of cards. And not merely in the United States: debt crises and economic instability can be linked toinequality all around the world. To support this conclusion, Galbraith marshals the data as never before, examining it in light of geography, economic change, and politics. For example, the dramatic rise of inequality in the United States in the 1990s correlated with the information-technology boom, whose wealth was concentrated injust three counties of Northern California, the Seattle area, and Manhattan. As for what drives this inequality, he writes, we need look no further than the capital markets - since those at the top have benefited not simply from salaries and bonuses, but increasingly from stock options, assetvaluations, and capital gains. A landmark work of research and original insight, Inequality and Instability will change forever the way we understand this pivotal topic.
A collection of essays about the US Great Recession of 2007 to 2009 and the subsequent stagnation from prominent scholars.
The global financial crisis has had a seismic impact upon the wealth of nations. But we have little sense of how it affects one of the most fundamental issues of all: our physical and mental health. This highly significant new book, based on the authors' own groundbreaking research, looks at the daily lives of people affected by financial crisis, from the Great Depression of the 1930s, to post-communist Russia, to the US foreclosure crisis of the late 2000s. Why, it asks, did Sweden experience a fall in suicides during its banking crisis? What triggered a mosquito-borne epidemic in California in 2007? What caused 10 million Russian men to 'disappear' in the 1990s? Why is Greece experiencing rocketing HIV rates? And how did the health of Americans actually improve during the catastrophic crisis of the 1930s? The conclusions it draws are both surprising and compelling: remarkably, when faced with similar crises, the health of some societies - like Iceland - improves, while that of others, such as Greece, deteriorates. Even amid the worst economic disasters, negative public health effects are not inevitable: it's how communities respond to challenges of debt and market turmoil that counts. The Body Economic puts forward a radical proposition. Austerity, it argues, is seriously bad for your health. We can prevent financial crises from becoming epidemics, but to do so, we must acknowledge what the hard data tells us: that, throughout history, there is a causal link between the strength of a community's health and its social protection systems. Now and for generations to come, our commitment to the building of fairer, more equal societies will determine the health of our body economic.
From the chief economic commentator for the Financial Times—a brilliant tour d’horizon of the new global economy There have been many books that have sought to explain the causes and courses of the financial and economic crisis that began in 2007. The Shifts and the Shocks is not another detailed history of the crisis but is the most persuasive and complete account yet published of what the crisis should teach us about modern economies and economics. Written with all the intellectual command and trenchant judgment that have made Martin Wolf one of the world’s most influential economic commentators, The Shifts and the Shocks matches impressive analysis with no-holds-barred criticism and persuasive prescription for a more stable future. It is a book no one with an interest in global affairs will want to neglect. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Selected as a Financial Times Best Book of 2013 Governments today in both Europe and the United States have succeeded in casting government spending as reckless wastefulness that has made the economy worse. In contrast, they have advanced a policy of draconian budget cuts--austerity--to solve the financial crisis. We are told that we have all lived beyond our means and now need to tighten our belts. This view conveniently forgets where all that debt came from. Not from an orgy of government spending, but as the direct result of bailing out, recapitalizing, and adding liquidity to the broken banking system. Through these actions private debt was rechristened as government debt while those responsible for generating it walked away scot free, placing the blame on the state, and the burden on the taxpayer. That burden now takes the form of a global turn to austerity, the policy of reducing domestic wages and prices to restore competitiveness and balance the budget. The problem, according to political economist Mark Blyth, is that austerity is a very dangerous idea. First of all, it doesn't work. As the past four years and countless historical examples from the last 100 years show, while it makes sense for any one state to try and cut its way to growth, it simply cannot work when all states try it simultaneously: all we do is shrink the economy. In the worst case, austerity policies worsened the Great Depression and created the conditions for seizures of power by the forces responsible for the Second World War: the Nazis and the Japanese military establishment. As Blyth amply demonstrates, the arguments for austerity are tenuous and the evidence thin. Rather than expanding growth and opportunity, the repeated revival of this dead economic idea has almost always led to low growth along with increases in wealth and income inequality. Austerity demolishes the conventional wisdom, marshaling an army of facts to demand that we austerity for what it is, and what it costs us.
“Mervyn King may well have written the most important book to come out of the financial crisis. Agree or disagree, King’s visionary ideas deserve the attention of everyone from economics students to heads of state.” —Lawrence H. Summers Something is wrong with our banking system. We all sense that, but Mervyn King knows it firsthand; his ten years at the helm of the Bank of England, including at the height of the financial crisis, revealed profound truths about the mechanisms of our capitalist society. In The End of Alchemy he offers us an essential work about the history and future of money and banking, the keys to modern finance. The Industrial Revolution built the foundation of our modern capitalist age. Yet the flowering of technological innovations during that dynamic period relied on the widespread adoption of two much older ideas: the creation of paper money and the invention of banks that issued credit. We take these systems for granted today, yet at their core both ideas were revolutionary and almost magical. Common paper became as precious as gold, and risky long-term loans were transformed into safe short-term bank deposits. As King argues, this is financial alchemy—the creation of extraordinary financial powers that defy reality and common sense. Faith in these powers has led to huge benefits; the liquidity they create has fueled economic growth for two centuries now. However, they have also produced an unending string of economic disasters, from hyperinflations to banking collapses to the recent global recession and current stagnation. How do we reconcile the potent strengths of these ideas with their inherent weaknesses? King draws on his unique experience to present fresh interpretations of these economic forces and to point the way forward for the global economy. His bold solutions cut through current overstuffed and needlessly complex legislation to provide a clear path to durable prosperity and the end of overreliance on the alchemy of our financial ancestors.
This book seeks to analyse the development of the European Union (EU), which was founded upon the principle of the free movement of capital, goods, services and people in 1957. Its central thesis is that, from a practical and theoretical point of view, such a basis is fundamentally at odds with the creation of an interventionist regime that the construction of a social Europe would require. The authors argue convincingly that - economically: the EU does not currently possess the budget or the economic tools to pursue such a strategy; politically: close to none of the institutions of the EU have backed such a policy; practically: conservative and neo-liberal forces (among member states and the institutions of the EU) have repeatedly thwarted any moves in this direction. In reality, the Single Internal Market, Economic and Monetary Union, enlargement, the Lisbon Agenda and European Constitution projects all prioritise supply-side measures and expanding the scope of the market rather than the boosting of demand and other economic intervention. Consequently, constructing a social Europe in the face of this would appear problematic. Hence, in both theory and practice, the idea that there can be a social Europe vis-à-vis neoliberalisation is a contradiction in terms. This controversial book will be an educating and refreshing read for advanced students and academics involved with European politics, the European Union, European Economics and Economic instititutions.
Looks at the economic downturn of the early twenty-first century, declaring it a depression, and outlines the steps that can be taken to reverse the trend and get back on the road to economic recovery.
Reveals lesser-known aspects of the stimulus bill while explaining how the Obama administration's progressive steps have prevented an imminent depression while supporting clean energy, health care, education reform, and other positive agendas.
Renowned economist Andrew Smithers offers prescriptive advice and economic theory on avoiding the next financial crisis In The Road to Recovery, Andrew Smithers—one of a handful of respected economists to have accurately predicted the most recent global financial crisis—argues that the neoclassical consensus governing global economic decision-making must be revised in order to avoid the next financial collapse. He argues that the current low interest rates and budget deficits have prevented the recession becoming a depression but that those policies cannot be continuously repeated and a new consensus for action must be found. He offers practical guidance on reducing government, household, and business debt; changing the economic incentives for the management class that currently inhibit long-term growth; and rebalancing national economies both internally and externally. Further, he explains how central bankers must broaden the economic theories that guide their decisions to include the major factors of debt and asset prices. Offers practical, real-world economic policies for restructuring and rebalancing the global economic system Presents a modern economic theory for preventing the next collapse Ideal for economists, investors, fund managers, and central bankers Written by an economist described by the legendary Barton Biggs as "one of the five best, most dispassionate, erudite analysts in the world" As the global economy continues the long climb out of recession, it's imperative that central bankers and other economic decision-makers not repeat the mistakes of the past. The Road to Recovery offers prescriptive guidance on redesigning an economic system that is healthy, stable, and beneficial to all.